British Government Secretary Does a “Marie Antoinette”

Peasants in action outside the Bastille prison during the French Revolution.

(2 April, 2013) – On April Fool’s Day, the UK work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, told BBC radio listeners that he would be able to live on 7 pounds and 57 pence a day, an amount many British jobseekers have to do with when on benefits (£53 pounds a week). As a cabinet minister Duncan Smith earns £1.600 a week after tax. His 16th-century Tudor home is said to be worth £2m. Within 24 hours, his claim had prompted an online petition at where more than a quarter of a million people called on him to prove he would actually do it.

In the run-up to the French Revolution, revolutionary peasants propagated that the king’s wife Marie Antoinette had said that if the people didn’t have bread they could eat cake, which the Queen had in fact not said. Antoinette, following her husband, was beheaded after the revolution. Duncan Smith has however said what he said and may thereby have set a new record in arrogant hypocricy.

On the same day, the UK Chancellor George Osborne launched a scathing attack on churches and charities that oppose public welfare cuts. The UK government has responded to a series of recessions in recent years by slashing and cutting rather than stimulating growth from the bottom up. Instead of increasing employment, the UK has followed the policy of the US and made enormous amounts of fresh money available to banks, many of which would otherwise have failed due to reckless speculation and payments of exorbitant bonuses to traders.

PROUT demands an immediate end to speculative trading and the closure of all speculative market platforms, and a reorientation of labour policies towards full employment by transforming most industries and services into cooperatives.

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